Shades of Doug and Bob McKenzie (video, below). Two Canadians flying a plane full of cocaine (nearly 300 pounds) had to emergency land in Ohio yesterday. Oops! Should have had better pre-flight maintenance, eh?
Two men from Mirabel were charged Thursday in a U.S. federal court after authorities in Ohio discovered more than 90 kilograms of cocaine inside their small airplane when it was forced to make an emergency landing in the United States, according to the Montreal Gazette.
The plane landed at Ohio University Airport, in Albany, Ohio, Wednesday afternoon. According to Canadian aviation records, the plane is based in Lachute and is registered to Sylvain Desjardins, of Mirabel.
Desjardins, 47, and the other man who was on board, David Ayotte, also of Mirabel, were arrested and face charges of possession of more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in southern Ohio on Thursday, the aircraft, a Piper PA-31, was detected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday 18 miles north of an airport in the Bahamas. It had a flight plan to land in Windsor, Ont., but diverted to the airport in Ohio during the flight, and Desjardins was the pilot. Both men will be detained for a bail hearing on Monday.
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The cocaine was seized after the plane made the unplanned landing. Found were “132 bundles (each weighing approximately 1 kilogram (each),” according to the criminal complaint.
“Once on the ground, the pilot of the aircraft advised he was travelling through U.S. airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land unexpectedly,” Lt. Tim Ryan of the Ohio University Police Department wrote in a statement released about the incident. “Since the Ohio University airport is a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested the occupants of the aircraft be detained until federal agents could respond.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over after the plane landed.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that aviation records, based on the tail number of the aircraft, indicate it “has recently made flights over U.S. airspace while travelling between Canada and the Bahamas.”
Desjardins has a criminal record in Quebec that includes convictions for drug trafficking. In 1998, he was sentenced to a two-year prison term after having pleaded guilty, at the Montreal courthouse, to two counts related to possession with the intent to traffic in heroin. In 2002, he was arrested, following an investigation by the RCMP detachment based in St-Jérôme, and was charged in connection with a marijuana grow-operation. Two years later, on Nov. 30, 2004, he pleaded guilty to producing marijuana and to a related possession charge. He was sentenced in 2005 to a 14-month prison term.
According to the complaint: “A review of various database revealed that both Desjardins and Ayotte have prior convictions for drug offences in Canada.”